Effective Thinking Through Mathematics

Learn tools of effective thinking through puzzles and the world of mathematics around you in this fun and fascinating course.


A wondrously romantic belief is that brilliant thinkers magically produce brilliant ideas: Einstein jostles his hair and relativity falls out. We can enjoy these fanciful visions of leaps of genius, but we should not be fooled into believing that they’re reality. Brilliant innovators are brilliant because they practice habits of thinking that inevitably carry them step by step to works of genius. No magic and no leaps are involved.

Professor Starbird will discuss how habits of effective thinking and creativity can be taught and learned through mathematics. Anyone who practices them will inevitably create new insights, new ideas, and new solutions. Join us for puzzles and discussions prior to the course on Twitter (@StarbirdThink) and Facebook.


Simply Audit this Course

Can't commit to all of the lectures, assignments, and tests? Audit this course and have complete access to all of the course material, tests, and the online discussion forum. You decide what and how much you want to do.

Try for a Certificate

Looking to test your mettle? Participate in all of the course's activities and abide by the edX Honor Code. If your work is satisfactory, you'll receive a personalized certificate to showcase your achievement.


Michael Starbird
Michael Starbird
Michael Starbird is a University Distinguished Teaching Professor of Mathematics at The University of Texas at Austin. He has been at UT his whole career except for leaves, including as a Visiting Member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey and a member of the technical staff of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. He has received more than a dozen teaching awards including the Mathematical Association of America's 2007 national teaching award, the Texas statewide Minnie Stevens Piper Professor award, the UT Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award, and most of the UT-wide teaching awards including the Jean Holloway Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Friar Centennial Teaching Fellowship, the Chad Oliver Plan II Teaching Award, the President's Associates Teaching Excellence Award, the Dad's Association Centennial Teaching Fellowship, the Eyes of Texas Excellence Award (twice), and others. He is a member of UT's Academy of Distinguished Teachers.
He has produced DVD courses for The Teaching Company in the Great Courses Series on calculus, statistics, probability, geometry, and the joy of thinking and has given hundreds of lectures and workshops. He has co-authored several books including the innovative textbook for liberal arts students entitled "The Heart of Mathematics: An invitation to effective thinking." His new book with co-author Edward Burger is the general-audience book "The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking." You can learn more about his work at @5Thinking.
Dr. Donna K Kidwell Photo
Dr. Donna K. Kidwell
Donna Kidwell received her doctorate at the Ecole de Management in Grenoble, France, and her Master’s in Science and Technology Commercialization at The University of Texas at Austin. She led the development of The Innovation Readiness Series™, an online course developed to help global innovators. Her research interests include innovation and commercialization. She has worked globally to encourage economic development through science and innovations. Prior to her work with UT Austin, Donna was a software consultant, and developed custom database applications and eLearning environments for companies such as Exxon, Agilent, and Keller Williams Realty International. She is passionate about creating action based online systems to educate and help others achieve their goals.   You can learn more about Donna on Twitter@drdonnakidwell.
Angela Torres Camarena
Angela Torres Camarena
Angela Torres is an ward-winning writer and film director devoted to create meaningful films that explore social issues from a poetic perspective. Her films have been selected at international film festivals around the globe including the Cannes Film Festival. In 2009 won the Changemaker Award granted by HBO with her film "Exiled in America." Her short film "Frente Noreste" won the C.W. Hacket award for her outstanding work in Latin-American studies. Angela was recipient of the Warren Skaaren Endowed Presidential Scholarship for film excellence, granted by the department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin. She has also been recipient of the E.D. Farmer Fellowship by UT Austin, and the FONCA-CONACYT and the FONECA Fellowship granted by the National Commission of the Arts in Mexico. Her most recent project "The Trigger" won a partial grant by the prestigious and highly competitive Texas Filmmakers Production Fund.


What is the estimated effort for course?

About 5 hrs/week.

How much does it cost to take the course?

Nothing! The course is free.

Will the text of the lectures be available?

Yes. All of our lectures will have transcripts synced to the videos.

Do I need to watch the lectures live?

No. You can watch the lectures at your leisure.

Can I contact the Instructor or Teaching Assistants?

Yes, but not directly. The discussion forums are the appropriate venue for questions about the course. The instructor and TAs will monitor the discussion forums and try to respond to the most important questions; we also encourage discussion between students within the forums.

Is this course related to a campus course of The University of Texas at Austin?

Yes. This course contains material taught in an undergraduate Signature Course at The University of Texas at Austin. 

Will I need textbooks?

 The course is designed to be self contained within edX. We are working with Wiley to get you access to the "Heart of Math" textbook.


None. This course is designed for everyone!